China phone maker Xiaomi setting up international headquarters in Singapore

China handset maker Xiaomi will be setting up its international headquarters in Singapore.

The firm will be moving out of its current office at Asia Square to a new space in the Clarke Quay area and plans to hire 10 to 20 staff over the next six months.

Xiaomi co-founder Lin Bin told The Straits Times on Wednesdy that the company is now actively recruiting for positions such as in finance.

The phone maker, whose investors include Temasek Holdings and GIC, chose Singapore as its international office because the country is an "incredibly sophisticated market", said Mr Hugo Barra, the vice president of Xiaomi Global.

He explained that the firm, which is often called the Apple of China, believes the quality of feedback from Singapore on its phones and services "would be phenomenal".

The company hopes to apply what it learns from Singapore when it expands elsewhere in the world, he added.

Singapore is the first country outside Greater China to officially get Xiaomi's phones. A service centre for phone repairs will also open in Central Mall.

Malaysia is the next country Xiaomi is eyeing.

Mr Barra added that the company is also looking closely at India. There are no firm plans yet for product launches in the United States or Europe, as they are markets that are "very far away", he said.

Xiaomi's Redmi budget phone, with a quad-core processor and a 720p high-definition 4.7-inch screen, will be selling here without contract through the firm's Singapore website at $169 from Friday. The phone will also be available through all three telcos.

Phone quantities will be limited and available for sale only once every one to two weeks, similar to launches in Greater China. Xiaomi was unable to say how many sets would be available here each time they are sold.

StarHub said Redmi will be available at no cost on selected StarHub Mobile post-paid plans or $169 with a StarHub Mobile pre-paid bundle.

Xiaomi also announced that it will release a higher-end smartphone, the Mi3, here on March 7 at $419 without contract on its website. It will also launch the phone with the three telcos.

The Mi3 has a faster quad-core processor than the Redmi and a higher resolution 5-inch screen at 1080p.